Skiers boys start strong after break |

Skiers boys start strong after break

Nate Peterson

Aspen, CO ColoradoNew year, new record.Were undefeated in 2007, Aspen boys basketball coach Steve Ketchum said after his team rolled to wins at Olathe and Gunnison over the weekend. Were perfect so far.The Skiers (7-3, 4-1 in the 3A Western Slope) ran Olathe off its home floor Friday night in a 51-35 win that was more lopsided than the final margin indicated, Ketchum said.Up by 27 late in the third quarter, the Aspen coach pulled all his starters and let his junior varsity finish the game. Aspens starting five built a big lead by smothering Olathe on defense and converting easy baskets off steals. While everything seemed to be clicking for the Skiers, Olathe seemed completely out of synch, Ketchum said.We scouted Olathe at Roarking Fork the week before, and I thought they looked fantastic, Ketchum said. They just looked horrible Friday night. It was not the same team we saw. As bad as they played, we were just that good.Skiers forward Cory Parker led all scorers with 24 points. The junior also yanked down 11 rebounds and added three steals in his three quarters of work.Senior Michael Holmes was 3-for-3 from the 3-point line to finish with nine points. Juniors Tommy Rittenhouse and Brian Westerlind added six points each.Westerlind and Mike Taylor also had three steals each.Aspens defense held Olathe to 17 points through nearly three quarters before Ketchum emptied his bench. I think part of it has to do with our conditioning, Ketchum said. Weve done more conditioning in the last two weeks than we did in the first two months, and its paying off.It certainly helped Saturday at Gunnison in a 44-39 win.The Skiers never led by more than nine and played man defense for all four quarters to counter Gunnisons quickness.We struggled offensively, but the defense was really outstanding across the board, Ketchum said. The good news is that we shot below 50 percent from the free-throw line and missed some open layups, and still pulled out a win against a very good team in our league.Parker led all scorers with 25 points and finished with 16 rebounds. No other Aspen player had more than five points. Rittenhouse led the Skiers with five steals.Aspen gets a chance to improve on its perfect record in the new year when it hosts Coal Ridge at 7 p.m. Friday. The Skiers then head to Hotchkiss on Saturday.Lady Skiers drop twoWhile the boys looked fresh after nearly a month between games, Aspens girls looked rusty over the weekend, falling to both Olathe and Gunnison.The Skiers scored just six points in the first half of Friday nights 54-22 loss to the Pirates.Olathe came out, and they were quick, fast and athletic and they pressed us the entire game, first-year Skiers coach Jeremy Haack said. We dug a big hole early, and we missed way too many layups and way too many free throws.The Skiers finally got untracked in a 13-point third quarter, but it was too little, too late.Junior Julia Hassall sank two 3-pointers and went 4-for-5 from the free-throw line to lead Aspen with 14 points.I bet you we missed 10 layups under the basket, Haack said. Not to make excuses, but we hadnt played in nearly a month and it showed. We started pretty fast in the first quarter, we just couldnt capitalize at the free-throw line. To our girls credit, they came out fighting in the second half.Saturdays 42-29 loss at Gunnison was much more competitive. The Skiers trailed by five at the half and as little as four in the fourth quarter before the Cowboys went on a late run to seal the win.Hassall had all of the Skiers 14 points in the first half and finished with 20, six of which came off two 3-pointers.Junior Grace Seigle added five points and also pulled down a handful of rebounds.It was a lot closer than the score indicated, Haack said. We cut it to four and two a couple of times, but we had to foul to get the ball back late and they took advantage. It was nice to see the girls bounce back from a 30-point loss the night before. We had our chances.Haack remains optimistic after the two losses, which dropped his team to 1-8 overall and 0-4 in the 3A Western Slope.I dont think Gunnison is 13 points better than us, he said. Our girls are working hard, and they havent quit playing. Theyre doing everything I ask.Aspen hosts Coal Ridge at 5:30 p.m Friday.Nate Petersons e-mail address is